Gardens are all heart – by Diane Morey Sitton

Like rose petals adrift in the wind, rope-themed hearts float above heart-shaped foliage. All images by Diane Morey Sitton. Click image for larger view.

As if it wasn’t enough that nature decorates gardens with the heart-shaped foliage and flowers of caladium, cyclamen, elephant ear, hosta, dicentra, and ivy, among other heartthrobs. Gardeners, too, seem smitten by Cupid’s symbol.

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Gardeners covet heart-embellished garden décor with the same fervor as kids reading the cutesy pastel phrases on piece-after-heart-shaped-piece of sweetheart candy.

Look around … there are hearts aplenty. Like Cupid himself, love struck and on the loose with a quiver full of arrows, gardeners dangle heart-shaped wind chimes from tree branches, they paint hearts on pots and the sides of potting sheds, and they piece hearts together – mosaic-style—using bits of broken pottery and glass. Stepping stones, signs, birdhouses, banners … they’re all there, either embellished with hearts or shaped like hearts, in gardens large and small.

And there’s more.

A heart-to-heart pattern adorns this wrought iron gate.
While not exactly a throne, this Queen of Hearts swings on an antique-reproduction gate decorated with scrollwork and heart-shaped foliage.

Decorative metalwork, too, is all heart. But look closely. Whether plump or elongated, upside down or back to back, hearts are hidden in plain sight on wrought iron gates and fences. Vines with heart-shaped foliage conceal heart-shaped scrollwork on trellises and arbors. Chair backs, plant stands, and even plant hangers emblazoned with heart-inspired images set the heart on fire.

Heart-themed mosaics set gardeners’ hearts on fire.

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It’s hard to say what prompted the first gardener to paint a lopsided heart on a garden gate or to display a primitive tin heart among garden flowers. Chances are the impulse was inspired by Valentine’s Day.

There’s no better place for hearts of stone than in a garden. Click image for larger view.

In its earliest version, the heart-filled holiday was an ancient Roman love fest. Eventually, the pope recast the pagan antics into a festival honoring Saint Valentinus. In the 14th century, a poem written by English poet Geoffrey Chaucer linked Valentine’s Day to romance.

Entwined and as red as a lovebird’s beak, these tiny hearts send a big message.

Some 500 years passed before Americans fell in love with the day of hearts and flowers. And fall in love they did … wholeheartedly! By 1913 Hallmark Cards’ mass-produced valentines had replaced the meticulously hand-crafted cards of earlier times. Today, according to Hallmark, folks eagerly wear their hearts on their sleeves by exchanging some 145 million Valentine Day cards (not including kids’ valentines swapped at school.) There are cards for spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends, parents, teachers, and even pets.

Gloria Ogden of Lufkin crafted this iridescent heart-shaped leaf by first making a leaf impression. Click image for larger view.

Yes, the heart-shaped symbol is more prevalent than ever. And whether homemade, crafted by artisans, inspired by lovebirds or the glint in a cherub’s eye, hearts decorate gates, adorn garden fences, embellish herb beds, and draw the eye to borders, all the while complementing flowers and foliage.

For gardeners, it’s Valentine’s Day all year long.

Posted by Diane Morey Sitton
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